It’s always fun to watch an up-and-coming team. You see them crawl from the gutter, one small-but-valiant step at a time, right before they fully rise up and turn into a (potentially) formidable squad. Such is the case with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Time really flies. It was not too long ago when Damian Lillard’s long-distance, walk-off three-pointer in the 2019 playoffs ousted the Russell Westbrook and Paul George-led Thunder, which then sent the franchise into rebuild mode. Now, thanks to General Manager Sam Presti’s brilliance, it seems the way back has been sped up and OKC is in prime position to return as a contender very soon.

Let’s quickly refresh your memory: Presti shipped Westbrook and George for Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, respectively, with both trades also involving a massive collection of first-round picks for OKC. Then, the masterful GM Presti is, just kept on doing it – one first-rounder after another. He even got one for Paul, who was 35 years old at the time he was sent to the Phoenix Suns.

Here’s a list of OKC’s first-round picks through 2027:


  • 1 right to swap with LA Clippers (unprotected)


  • 1 own
  • 1 from Houston (protected)
  • 1 from LA Clippers (unprotected),
  • 1 from Utah (protected, can be conveyed until 2026)


  • 1 right to swap with Houston or LA Clippers
  • 1 from Miami (protected)
  • 1 from Philadelphia (protected)


  • 1 own
  • 1 from Houston (protected)


  • 1 own
  • 1 from Denver (protected)

What makes all of those juicy, high-value, high-potential picks even better is the current crop of Thunder. Head coach Mark Daigneault, who’s only turning 38, leads the way for the OKC youngsters. He’s a solid maestro that learned from some all-timers: legendary college coaches Jim Calhoun and Billy Donovan (former OKC coach, now with Chicago).


The kids are alright too, most especially SGA. After getting hindered by multiple injuries, Gilgeous-Alexander has finally blossomed as a scoring machine and future All-Star. He’s as healthy as he’s been this season and filling up the statsheet. Along with registering 30.6 points per game, which ranks fifth in the league, he’s also posting 4.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.0 block per game. There’s efficiency too as he shoots 50.6% from the field and 90.7% from the line.

Clutch shooting has been seen in certain moments as well. Here’s his 42-point performance last November, highlighted by his fourth-quarter efforts and game-winning, step-back trifecta:

SGA has powered the Thunder to a 22-24 record, just a half game out of a play-in spot. It’s an okay position in the West considering everyone outside of the top five spots are pretty much clogged in the standings. The wins aren’t against pushovers too. It’s a list that has the league-leading Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Dallas Mavericks, among others.

Aiding the 24-year-old guard is the team’s coveted 2021 first-round pick, Josh Giddey. The 6’8, 20-year-old two-guard also fills the statsheet, and he can be one of the best facilitators in the league in no time. He’s putting up 19.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game on a smooth 53.2% shooting over his 12 previous outings.

Then, you have the role players. Lu Dort is a classic 3 and D player that’s still progressing. He’s quick to be noticed due to his energy and defensive instincts, which got major props as it earned quite the praise from Luka Doncic. You know someone’s a good defender when one of the league’s elite talent acknowledges it with no fuss.

Rookie Jalen Williams, who could be the quick-trigger offense that can help the offense, is also coming up, as well as the resident unicorn, Aleksej Pokusevski. Rounding that out is speedy point guard Tre Mann and bid-body forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

It’s truly an exciting bunch, one that’s made to shine within the next couple of seasons. Envisioning it alone is intriguing. Heck, we haven’t even mentioned their prized pick in the 2022 draft, seven-footer Chet Holmgren. He, too, is a unicorn, with his towering stature, shot-blocking abilities, and offensive repertoire.

Watch out, NBA. The Thunder are about to hit soon.